07 May 2008, 09:20

Shevchenko: closure of charitable hospital in Dagestan is a tragedy

Maxim Shevchenko, a member of the Public Chamber and head of the Centre for Strategic Researches of Religion and Politics in Modern World, has treated the judicial decision on the claim of the Ministry of Property and Land Relations of Dagestan against the Regional Public Foundation "Charitable Women's Hospital" to be a tragedy and disaster.

We remind you that on April 29 Magomed Isaev, Judge of the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Dagestan, made a decision to satisfy the suit and obliged the Hospital to vacate its premises in the city of Makhachkala.

In the program named "Dissenting Opinion" on air of the "Echo Moskvy" Radio Station, Mr Shevchenko expressed an opinion that the authorities - both local and federal - should be blamed of what has happened.

"Women from all over Northern Caucasus came there," the expert said, "women who have 6-9 children. The children's death rate in the Caucasus is staggering. This hospital was free-of-charge. For a woman in Dagestan, today the cheapest delivery costs 10,000 roubles. This is huge money for Moslem women from mountain auls (villages). 40,000 women have used the hospital during the time of its operation."

"In this context, the National Project 'Public Health' and all these demographic plans, you know, seem very doubtful to me. At least, I don't know - maybe it's deliberately done for Caucasian regions, to bring down the birth rate, to have six out of nine kids dying - there's such statistics as well," Maxim Shevchenko has stated.

The hospital shall vacate the premises before December 30. The "Gazeta" newspaper notes in its comments on the above decision that there are no other premises; and Dagestan authorities are not in a haste to offer anything instead. According to the paper, the women who used the hospital tried to tell about the problems that will arise after its closing from local television, but they were not let in.

Meanwhile, women from Dagestan auls keep sending cables to President Putin trying to draw his attention to the problem and saying that if the hospital is closed, they - mothers-heroines who are rearing their children - will have nothing to do but perish.

Aishat Magomedova shot a film about the life of her patients - Dagestan women, on what the life of a mountain woman-villager in the post-Soviet epoch looks like: bring water for kilometres away from home, in winter - on ice, drag heaps of brushwood and hay, plough and mow.

Apart from medical services, the hospital was engaged in education and social work. The Chechen girls who remained orphans were trained in crafts. A sewing workshop was working - they were sewing gowns and bed sheets. The service of psychological rehabilitation was on, and courses of aides and nurses. Patients were trained in jeweller's craft; they baked bread and studied the English and Arabian languages.

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